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The History of a Heart


The History of a Heart


The History of a Heart was de Maupassant's first novel. When published in 1883 it was an immediate and controversial bestseller and established de Maupassant as a worthy compatriot of Flaubert and Zola.

A 17-year-old girl named Jeanne eagerly awaits her departure from the convent where she has been educated. Her father, the Baron Le Perthuis de Vauds, has kept his beloved only child in virginal seclusion as part of his plan to keep Jeanne innocent of the sins and cares of the world. He is now taking her to the family's estate on the Norman coast, which is destined to be her home as soon as she marries.

She is soon introduced to a dashing young man, the Vicomte Julien de Lamare.

After a storybook courtship, the two are married and installed as master and mistress of the estate. But on Jeanne's wedding night, the fairy tale comes to an end: innocent of conjugal matters, Jeanne is shocked at what Julien does to her.

But much more disillusionment is in store for Jeanne. Those whom she has idolized begin, one by one, to disappoint her.

Her fairy-tale world begins to crumble, and she comes to rage and despair "at the cravenness of human beings, slaves to the foul procedures of carnal love that makes cowards of the heart as well as the body. Mankind itself seemed to her unclean, when she thought of all the dirty secrets of the senses, the degrading caresses, and the dimly discerned mysteries of inseparable couplings."

And when Jeanne is sunk deep in self-pity, her maid does finally lose her temper and exclaim: "And what would you say if you had to earn your daily bread; if you had to get up every morning and do a full day's work! Lots of women have to, and when they get too old, they die of poverty."

GUY de MAUPASSANT (1850–1893) is generally considered to be among the very finest French writers. He is the author of Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi, Bel-Ami, Le Horla, and numerous other novels and short stories.


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